Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Spirits in Bondage by C.S. Lewis

Synopsis: This is a collection of poems written by Lewis early in his life. They represent some of his first work - prose or poetry - and it's before he become a Christian. The poems were written intending to be a cycle, one long connected thought.

Review: This is my first introduction to Lewis' poetry and I enjoyed it. Unlike others who draw from mythology and ancient stories, Lewis doesn't get bogged down or make the reader feel stupid for not knowing. His poetry is rhythmic and lyrical, like reading music. It is clear that even at the beginning of his writing career he was excellent.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 5-30-2011
Pages: 80

Review: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Synopsis: In an alternate 1880s America, mad inventor Leviticus Blue is blamed for destroying Civil War–era Seattle. When Zeke Wilkes, Blue's son, goes into the walled wreck of a city to clear his father's name, Zeke's mother, Briar Wilkes, follows him in an airship, determined to rescue her son from the toxic gas that turns people into zombies (called rotters and described in gut-churning detail). When Briar learns that Seattle still has a mad inventor, Dr. Minnericht, who eerily resembles her dead husband, a simple rescue quickly turns into a thrilling race to save Zeke from the man who may be his father. (from the Amazon website description)

Review: This is my first steampunk novel and it was an excellent choice. Priest's writing is clear and lively. It's not lyrical or poetic, which suits the story. She does use interesting descriptions (lemony to describe lightbulbs, foam to describe pasing out). I enjoyed her characters: round, humerous, deep, complex, sublte. Her action sequences are clear, the world and socio-cultural structure is interesting and layered, but it the story that moves her work from adequite to exceptional.
I was constantly asking:
"Is he or isn't he?"
"Will they or won't they?"
"Is that person good or bad?"
"What is going to happen?"
"Will they make it?"

Combined with the characters, this makes for a wonderful, edge-of-my-seat story. I intend to read the rest of the Clockwork Century books by Priest. I might also pick up Priest's other works as well.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards:
2009 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award;
2010 Hugo Nominee;
2010 Locus Award for the Best Science Fiction Novel

Date Finished: 5-28-2011
Pages: 416

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: American Beauties: Women and Art and Literature. Paintings, Sculptures, Drawings, Photographs, and Other Works of Art ed. by Charles Sullivan

Synopsis: A collection of short prose and poems regarding beauty and women interspaced with pictures of women starting in the later 1700s and moving to the 1980s. The editor choose both famous and not-so-well-known artisit and writers, and included traditional beauty and avant-garde paitings. The end of the book includes small biographies of every name.

Review: I am admittly picking about art. I can recognize certain styles as "art" but I still think they ugly. That being said, I thought much of the art included in this collection was ugly. On the other hand, I thought many of the peices were gorgeous, and I enjoyed the inclusion of litte-known artist. This collection exposed my to artist I'd never seen or heard, but several that I loved.
As for the prose, some was trite, some was odd, some was beautiful, some was funny. The variety was excellent.
In conclusion, this would bve a wonderful starter art book for someone who was just getting into art. It would allow them to explore what style and period they enjoy and give them the knowledge to further explore the art they enjoyed.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 5-14-2011
Pages: 159

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review: The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: Jack Audley has been a highwayman.A soldier. And he has always been a rogue. What he is not, and never wanted to be, is a peer of the realm, responsible for an ancient heritage and the livelihood of hundreds. But when he is recognized as the long-lost son of the House of Wyndham, his carefree life is over. And if his birth proves to be legitimate, then he will find himself with the one title he never wanted: Duke of Wyndham.
Grace Eversleigh has spent the last five years toiling as the companion to the dowager Duchess of Wyndham. It is a thankless job, with very little break from the routine . . . until Jack Audley lands in her life, all rakish smiles and debonair charm. He is not a man who takes no for an answer, and when she is in his arms, she's not a woman who wants to say no. But if he is the true duke, then he is the one man she can never have . . . (from the back of the book)

Review: This is part of a dualogy with Quinn's Mr. Cavendish, I Presume. More accurately, it's the same story in both books, but this one focuses on Grace and Jack, while the other on Amelia and Thomas. I enjoyed the intertwining of the stories - see the same event from one of four PoV. Quinn did an excellent job. This is not at good at her Bevelstroke series, but it was in no way a poor story. Her characters are felt flat to me, after the Bevelstroke stories, but her dialogue and descriptions were just as witty and well-done. While not as good as her others, it was still a pleasing read and I enjoyed it.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 5-8-2011
Pages: 384

Review: Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: Amelia Willoughby has been engaged to the Duke of Wyndham for as long as she can remember. Literally. A mere six months old when the contracts were signed, she has spent the rest of her life waiting. And waiting. And waiting . . . for Thomas Cavendish, the oh-so-lofty duke, to finally get around to marrying her. But as she watches him from afar, she has a sneaking suspicion that he never thinks about her at all . . .
It's true. He doesn't. Thomas rather likes having a fiancée—all the better to keep the husband-hunters at bay—and he does intend to marry her . . . eventually. But just when he begins to realize that his bride might be something more than convenient, Thomas's world is rocked by the arrival of his long-lost cousin, who may or may not be the true Duke of Wyndham. And if Thomas is not the duke, then he's not engaged to Amelia. Which is the cruelest joke of all, because this arrogant and illustrious duke has made the mistake of falling in love . . . with his own fiancée! (from the back of the book)

Review: This is part of a dualogy with Quinn's The Lost Duke of Wyndham. More accurately, it's the same story in both books, but this one focuses on Amelia and Thomas, while the other on Grace and Jack. I enjoyed the intertwining of the stories - see the same event from one of four PoV. Quinn did an excellent job. This is not at good at her Bevelstroke series, but it was in no way a poor story. Her characters are felt flat to me, after the Bevelstroke stories, but her dialogue and descriptions were just as witty and well-done. While not as good as her others, it was still a pleasing read and I enjoyed it.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 5-6-2011
Pages: 370

Friday, May 6, 2011

Aquisitions: Paperback Inc.


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Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn

The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn

Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine (Weather Warden, Book 2)

Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bagigalupi

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer



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Review: Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: Ten Things You Should Know About This Book
1. Sebastian Grey is a devilishly handsome rogue with a secret.
2. Annabel Winslow's family voted her The Winslow Most Likely to Speak Her Mind and The Winslow Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Church.
3. Sebastian's uncle is the Earl of Newbury, and if he dies without siring an heir, Sebastian inherits everything.
4. Lord Newbury detests Sebastian and will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening.
5. Lord Newbury has decided that Annabel is the answer to all of his problems.
6. Annabel does not want to marry Lord Newbury, especially when she finds out he once romanced her grandmother.
7 is shocking, 8 is delicious, and 9 is downright wicked, all of which lead the way to 10. Happily. Ever. After. (from the back of the book)

Review: The hero of this book, Sebastian Grey, is a prominant character in the previous book, What Happens in London. At points he almost stole the story! And the heroine was different from the other two, not being born to priviledge. It made for an interesting story. I enjoyed this one as much as the other two. Once again, Quinn was able to create layered, plausible characters that felt real the entire time. It was a delightful read!

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 5-5-2011
Pages: 377

Review: What Happens in London by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: When Olivia Bevelstoke is told that her new neighbor may have killed his fiancÉe, she doesn't believe it for a second, but, still, how can she help spying on him, just to be sure? So she stakes out a spot near her bedroom window, cleverly concealed by curtains, watches, and waits . . . and discovers a most intriguing man, who is definitely up to something.

Sir Harry Valentine works for the boring branch of the War Office, translating documents vital to national security. He's not a spy, but he's had all the training, and when a gorgeous blonde begins to watch him from her window, he is instantly suspicious. But just when he decides that she's nothing more than an annoyingly nosy debutante, he discovers that she might be engaged to a foreign prince, who might be plotting against England. And when Harry is roped into spying on Olivia, he discovers that he might be falling for her himself . . . (from the back of the book)

Review: Lady Olivia Bevelstroke is a secondary character in Quinn's The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever and I was delighted to find she had her own book. I enjoyed her so much in the first! She's beautiful, but for once, she's a heroine aware of her beauty! And the hero, Sir Harry, is handsome, but reasonably so, smart, has a troubled past but isn't emo or tortured or mysterious. He is what he is - like many of us, made up of the good and bad in our lives. Quinn has a rare talent for making her characters round, whole, complete, sparkling, witty and layered - which makes for a marvelous read.
I found myself smiling through most of the book and if I had to choose one word for it, I would pick "happy" - sure there is danger and tension, but it doesn't detract from the overall delight of the prose. I enjoyed ever minute of this book!

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: 2010 RITA Winner for Best Regency Historical Romance

Date Finished: 5-4-2011
Pages: 372

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Review: The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: At age of ten, Miranda Cheever showed no signs of Great Beauty. And even at ten, Miranda learned to accept the expectations society held for her - until the afternoon when Nigel Bevelstroke, the handsome and dashing Viscount Turner, solemnly kissed her hand and promised her that one day she would grow into herself, the one day she would be as beautiful as she already was smart. And even at ten, Miranda knew she would love him forever.
But the years that followed were as cruel to Turner as they were kind to Miranda. She is an intriguing as the viscount boldly predicted on the memorable day - while is a lonely, bitter man, crushed by a devastating loss. But Miranda has never forgotten the truth she set down on paper all those years earlier - and she will not allow the love that is her destiny to slip lightly through her fingers...

Review: I picked up 2 Quinn novels recently, and picked this one up just to add to the collected. By happy chance, I picked up the three in the Bevelstroke series - This being the first.
Quinn is an exceptional author. Her stories are characters driven and her dialogue is the best I've ever read - witty, sharp, natural and engaging. Even her secondary characters are flesh-out, round and endearing and I was delighted to find my favorite secondary character from this novel is the main heroine in the next.
I enjoyed this book immensely, not only for the story and characters, but for how much I learned through Quinn's wonderful example of perfect dialogue.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: 2008 RITA for Best Regency Historical Romance

Date Finished: 5-3-2011
Pages: 373

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Review: The Light at Tern Rock by Julia L. Sauer

Synopsis: Ronnie and his aunt are tending the Tern Rock lighthouse for two December weeks while its keeper takes a much-needed vacation. Ronnie learns to love the slap of the waves against the Rock, sleeping in a bunk, climbing the winding staircase, and lighting the great lamp each night, and he looks forward to telling his family about it at Christmas. But the days go by, and the lighthouse keeper doesn't return to take them home...

Review: This is a short, crisp little book. Despite it's sparse nature, each word matters. Aunt Martha and Ronnie are round, whole characters and they felt alive. The description of the lighthouse is simple and delicate, each word rich in meaning. The author accomplished much with few words. I enjoyed this short read more then I thought I would.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Newbery Medal 1952

Date Finished: 05-01-2011
Pages: 60

Review: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Synopsis: High on the slopes of rocky Mount Eskel, Miri’s family pounds a living from the stone of the mountain itself. But Miri’s life will change forever when word comes to her small village is the home of the future princess. All eligible girls must attend a makeshift academy to prepare for royal life. At the school, Miri finds herself confronting bitter competition among the girls and her own conflicted desires to be chose. Yet when danger comes to the academy, it is Miri named for a tiny mountain flower, who much find a way to save her classmates – and the future of their beloved village. (From the back of the book)

Review: I read this as part of the Newbery quest and because I adore fairy tale books. While this isn't a fairy tale retelling, it has that feel. Miri is a strong character and I enjoyed watching her grow, sort through her life and feelings and come to a conclusion about who she is and what she wants. The other character were round and well-done and I particular enjoined the culture Hale created, the magic, the people and the story. Overall, I would recommend this book to any young girl, and I can't wait to read it to mine.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Newbery Honor 2006

Date Finished: 04-29-2011
Pages: 314

Acquisitions: Newport News Library Book Sale

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American Beauty ed. by Charles Sullivan

Paintings in the Louvre by Lawrence Gowing

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Encoure Provence by Peter Mayle

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Ironweed by William Kennedy

Hitty Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field

I, Juan De Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino

The Highwayman by R. A. Salvatore

The Song of Ruth by Frank Sullivan

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Bell: Alexander Graham Bell and the Conquest of Solitude by Robert V. Bruce

Paradise Lost and Other Poems by John Milton

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower I) by Stephen King

The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower II) by Stephen King

Masterpieces of Terror and the Unknown: A Treasury of Bizarre Tales, Old and New
ed. by Marvin Kaye

Nightflyers and Other Stories by Geroge R. R. Martin

Legends: New Short Novels ed. by Robert Silverberg

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

In the House of Brede by Rumer Godden

The Battle of the Villa Fiorita by Rumer Godden

The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden


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